ST. HELENS, Ore. — James Hert has lived near the corner of Jakobi Street and Ethan Lane in St. Helens for about four years. He describes the neighborhood as mellow and family-friendly.
"Up until yesterday it felt safe," Hert said.
That is when Hert noticed somebody had been inside his car. The glove box had been ransacked. Hert says his girlfriend's wallet was stolen and the garage door opener was used to access his garage.
"It's one door and then you're standing in my kitchen," Hert said. "My kids and I are asleep upstairs, you know."
Hert says he felt attacked and victimized and it turns out he is not alone.
Since early Sunday morning, St. Helens police have taken more than a dozen reports of vehicle break-ins across five different neighborhoods. Even worse, KGW has learned at least two cars were stolen, one from a property on Parkwood Drive.
"It's a crying shame," neighbor Jim Jennings said. "Especially in this area."
Jennings says nobody deserves to be a victim of car prowlers, even if their cars were unlocked as detectives indicated.
"A lot of people around here work hard every day so they can have something," Jennings said. "Then some low life comes out and takes it so it's not good."
Hert agrees. He hopes officers are able to track down the bad guys.
"It would be nice to know they were caught and that's the people who did it," Hert said.
Authorities say there could be up to five suspects operating out of a white SUV. If you know anything about them or believe you are a victim, you are asked to call the St. Helens Police Department at 503-397-3333.
In the meantime, you are urged to park your car in the garage or behind a locked gate. If it has to stay outside, make sure it is locked and parked in an area with plenty of light.